Best Affordable Graduate Physics Programs
For those of you considering a Masters or PhD in physics, here s how much an Ivy League education will cost you:
Columbia University =$35,400/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.] 6 years ($212,400)
California Institute of Technology = $33,300/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.] 6 years ($199,800)
Harvard = $33,000/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.] 6 years ($198,000)
Princeton = $35,300/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.] 5.2 years ($183,500)
UC Berkeley = $22,700/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.] 6.3 years ($143,100)
That s an enormous investment, and not everyone is able to make it. But getting a top tier education doesn t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Here are some of the best affordable graduate physics programs in America.
CREDIT: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Physics –University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
UI Urbana consistently ranks among the top colleges for physics graduate programs. U.S. News World Report ranked its Condensed Matter Physics program #1, and its Nuclear Physics program #11 in the nation. UI Urbana is also ranked in the top ten by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. All those accolades most likely stem from the fact that it s a research-focused university. Areas of study include quantum physics, nuclear physics, and astrophysics. UI Urbana holds special awards for graduate students research efforts. Three faculty members – Professors Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Vidya Madhavan, and Brian DeMarc – were just elected Fellows of the American Physics Society. There s even a blog full of information for prospective graduate students. That wealth of information puts UI Urbana at the top of this list, but it s the most expensive school here. If you re interested, here s what you need to know to qualify for entry.
Cost. $22,500/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.]
Credits. 96 hours or 24 units for a PhD (completed on average in 6.3 years = $141,000)
CREDIT: FISK UNIVERSITY
Fisk University is an historically black college that s been making major gains in STEM fields. Its Master-to-PhD program has graduated more African American PhDs than any other college in the nation. The National Science Foundation ranked Fisk s physics programs in the top 3 percent for sciences in 2012. It also ranked in the top 8 percent among all universities and colleges for overall research in the country. Fisk is the only historically black university to win 4 R D 100 Awards. which honor inventive achievements in scientific fields. The first award in 2013 was for developing more effective and economical neutron radiation detection sensors. Fisk seeks to serve minority populations, but you don t have to be one to apply. They have lots of information for prospective students to let them know exactly what to expect – and how to succeed – in a Masters, or Masters-to-PhD program on their site. They also hold a research symposium every year to celebrate students work.
Credits. 30 (11 courses) (completed on average in 2 years = $69,780)
Location. Nashville, TN
CREDIT: RICE UNIVERSITY
Almost 30% of Rice University s physics astronomy research papers are cited in the top 10% of academic journals. That s more than any other university in the world – and it s only one of the factors that makes Rice a strong pick. Physics astronomy graduate students can choose from a variety of disciplines, from atomic and optical physics to space plasma physics. Students also have flexible course options as long as they cover all requirements for their core subject. They even get to start on research projects at the end of their first year. Astrophysics students can conduct research at nearby NASA Johnson Space Center. Rice even offers reduced tuition rates for doctoral students after 10 semesters.
Cost. $41,560/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.]
Credits. 90 hours (12 courses, 5 semesters teaching, additional coursework by discipline)
Location. Houston, TX
CREDIT: SAINT PETER S UNIVERSITY
Remember how physics improves critical thinking skills. That makes it perfect training for data science – and Saint Peter s University recognizes that. A small Jesuit university in Jersey City, Saint Peter s is MONEY Magazine s 5th Most Valuable College in the Nation for its ability to provide students with real-world knowledge at an affordable price. The graduate data science program is its best example of that value. Its curriculum focuses on business analytics and Big Data technologies, and meets standards set by Oracle. Oracle is the number one Big Data and database company in the world. By training students to use scientific methods to parse statistics and data, they re able to identify the most important data in a set. They’re also able to make better decisions about it. That training makes students desirable employees – and great critical thinkers.
Cost. $30,216, including books, room board, and other fees
Credits. 36 (12 courses)
Location. Jersey City, NJ
CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
Chemical Physics –University of Maryland, College Park
Chemical physics may sound like a strange major, but it s interdisciplinary physics training. UMD believes scientists need to learn from all disciplines to forward development. Students in this program learn from Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Mathematics, Materials Science Engineering, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Science faculty. Here s a sample course breakdown. UMD believes this interdisciplinarity will help physicists gain better practical applications of their knowledge. It also grants extra avenues of research, both within the university and without. Research projects include ones with the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Cost. $18,300/yr [not including fees, room and board, etc.]
Credits. 24 credits. (completed on average in 5.3 years = $96,900)
Location. College Park, MD
CREDIT: RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
If you want access to a far-infrared free electron laser, biosensor laboratory, and a infrared optoelectronic device laboratory, check out Rutgers. Rutgers is research-intensive, and has theoretical and experimental research funded by the National Science Foundation. It also offers a slew of courses with the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Interdisciplinary research programs are also available at other Rutgers campuses in NJ. That makes it really well-rounded — especially if you aren’t sure what discipline to focus on yet.
Location. Newark NJ
If you re concerned that choosing one of these schools will impede your education, remember that bigger does not mean better. While an Ivy League education will offer you a stellar network and research opportunities, they will also saddle you with $200,000 worth of debt. Unless you plan on using that degree to go into a non-scientific job like consulting, you ll struggle to pay down that debt after graduation. Don t do that to yourself. Assess what you want most out of your degree, and look at institutions that offer you value for your time, money, and energy. You may be surprised by what you find. We certainly were.
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Posted on: 01/17/16 7:01AM